Arabian Nights: The Third Voyage of Sindbad

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“The giant duly returned to sup on one of our companions. After his hideous meal he fell asleep and snored till daybreak, when he arose and went out as before. Our situation appeared to be so hopeless that some of my comrades were on the point of throwing themselves into the sea, rather than be sacrificed by the horrible monster; and they advised the rest to follow their example; but one of the company thus addressed them: ‘We are forbidden to kill ourselves; and even were such an act permitted, would it not be more rational to endeavour to destroy the barbarous giant, who has destined us to such a cruel death?’

“As I had already formed a project of that nature, I now communicated it to my fellow-sufferers, who approved of my design. ‘ My friends,’ said I then, ‘you know that there is a great deal of wood on the seashore. If you will take my advice, we can make some rafts, and when they are finished we will leave them in a proper place till we can find an opportunity to make use of them. In the meantime we can put in execution the design I propose to you to rid ourselves of the giant. If my stratagem succeeds, we may wait here with patience till some vessel passes, by means of which we may quit this fatal isle; if, on the contrary, we fail, we shall have recourse to our rafts, and put to sea. My advice was approved by all; and we immediately built some rafts, each large enough to support three persons.

“We returned to the palace towards evening, and the giant arrived a short time after us. Again one of our party was sacrificed to his inhuman appetite. But we were soon revenged on him for his cruelty. After he had finished his horrible meal, he laid himself down as usual to sleep. As soon as we heard him snore, nine of the most courageous amongst us, and myself, took each a spit, and heating the points red hot, thrust them into his eye, and blinded him.

“The pain which the giant suffered made him groan hideously. He suddenly raised himself, and threw his arms about on all sides, to seize some one, and sacrifice him to his rage; but fortunately we had time to throw ourselves on the ground in places where he could not set his feet on us. After having sought us in vain, he at last found the door, and went out, bellowing with pain.

“We quitted the palace immediately after the giant, and repaired to that part of the shore where our rafts lay. We set them afloat, and waited till daybreak before embarking on them, in case we should see the giant approach, with some guide to lead him to us; but we hoped that if he did not make his appearance by that time, and if his cries and groans, which now resounded through the air, ceased, we might suppose him dead; and in that case we proposed remaining in the island till we could obtain some safer mode of transport. But the sun had scarcely risen when we perceived our cruel enemy, accompanied by two giants nearly as huge as himself, who led him, and a great number of others, who walked very rapidly before him.

“At this sight we immediately ran to our rafts and rowed away as fast as possible. The giants seeing this, provided themselves with large stones, hastened to the shore, and even ventured to their waists into the sea to hurl the stones at us, which they did so adroitly that they sunk all the rafts excepting that I was upon. Thus I and two companions were the only men who escaped, the others being all drowned.

“As we rowed with all our strength, we were soon beyond reach of the stones.

“When we had gained the open sea, we were tossed about at the mercy of the winds and waves, and we passed that day and night in the most cruel suspense; but on the morrow we had the good fortune to be thrown on an island, where we landed with great joy. We found some excellent fruit, which soon recruited our exhausted strength.

“When night came on we went to sleep on the seashore; but were soon awakened by the noise made on the ground by the scales of an immense serpent, long as a palm-tree. It was so near to us that it devoured one of my companions, notwithstanding the efforts he made to extricate himself from its deadly grasp.

“My other comrade and myself immediately took to flight. ‘O Allah!’ I exclaimed, ‘what a horrible fate will be ours! Yesterday we were rejoicing at our escape from the cruelty of a giant and the fury of the waves, and to-day we are again terrified by a peril not less dreadful.’

“As we walked along, we remarked a large high tree, on which we proposed to pass the night, hoping we might there be in safety. We ate some fruit as we had done on the preceding day, and at the approach of night we climbed the tree. We soon heard the serpent, which came hissing to the foot of the tree; it raised itself against the trunk, and meeting with my companion, who had not climbed so high as I, it swallowed him and retired.

“I remained on the tree till daybreak, when I came down, more dead than alive: indeed I could only anticipate the same fate.

“I collected a great quantity of small wood and furze; and tying it in faggots, put it round the tree in a large circle, and tied some across to cover my head. I enclosed myself within this circle when the evening came on, and sat down with the dismal consolation that I had done all in my power to preserve my life. The serpent returned with the intention of devouring me, but he could not succeed, being prevented by the rampart I had formed. The whole night he was watching me; at last day returned, and the serpent retired; but I did not venture out of my fortress till the sun shone.

“I was so fatigued with watching, as well as with the exertion of forming my retreat, and had suffered so much from the serpent’s pestilential breath, that death appeared preferable to a repetition of such horror. I ran towards the sea with the intention of putting an end to my existence: but Allah pitied my condition; and at the moment that I was going to throw myself into the sea, I descried a vessel at a great distance. I cried out with all my strength, and unfolded and waved my turban, to attract the attention of those on board. This had the desired effect; all the crew saw me, and the captain sent a boat to bring me off.

“As soon as I was on board, the merchants and seamen were eager to learn by what chance I had reached that desert island; and after I had related to them all that had happened, they expressed their joy at my fortunate escape from so many perils; then as they supposed I must be in want of something to eat, they pressed upon me the best they had; and the captain, observing that my clothes were torn, had the generosity to give me some of his.

“We remained a considerable time at sea, and touched at several islands; at length we landed on the Isle of Salahat, where the merchants began to unload their goods to sell or exchange them. One day, the captain called me to him, and said: ‘Brother, I have in my possession some goods which belonged to a merchant who was for some time on board my ship. As this merchant is dead, I am going to have them valued, that I may render an account of them to his heirs, should I ever meet them.’ The bales of which he spoke were already upon deck. He showed them to me, saying: ‘These are the goods; I wish you to take charge of them and traffic with them, and you shall receive for your trouble what is usually given in such cases.’ I consented, and thanked him for the opportunity he afforded me of employing myself.

“The clerk of the ship registered all the bales with the names of the merchants to whom they belonged; when he asked the captain in what name he should register those destined for my charge, the captain replied: ‘In the name of Sindbad the sailor,’ I could not hear my own name without emotion; and looking at the captain, I recognized in him the very same person who in my second voyage had left me on the island where I had fallen asleep by the side of a brook, and who had put to sea without waiting for me. I did not at first recollect him, so much was he changed in appearance since the time when I last saw him. As he thought me dead, it is not to be wondered at that he did not recognize me. ‘Captain,’ said I to him, ‘was the merchant to whom these things belonged called Sindbad?’ ‘Yes,’ returned he, ‘that was his name; he was from Bagdad, and embarked on board my vessel at Balsora. One day, when he went ashore on an island for fresh water, he was left behind; I know not through what mistake. None of the crew noticed his absence till four hours after, when the wind blew so fresh against us that it was impossible to return.’ ‘ You believe him to be dead?’ said I. ‘Most assuredly,’ replied the captain. ‘Then open your eyes,’ cried I, ‘and convince yourself that the same Sindbad whom you left in the desert island is now before you.’

“At these words the captain fixed his eyes on me, and after scrutinizing me very attentively, at last recollected me. ‘God be praised!’ cried he, embracing me; ‘I am delighted that fortune has given me an opportunity of repairing my fault. Here are your goods, which I have preserved with care, and always had valued at every port I stopped at. I return them to you with the profit I have made on them.’

“From the Island of Salahat we went to another, where I provided myself with cloves, cinnamon, and other spices. At length, after a long voyage, we arrived at Balsora, from whence I came to Bagdad with so much wealth that I did not know the amount of it. I gave a great deal to the poor and bought a considerable quantity of land.”

Sindbad thus finished the history of his third voyage. Again he gave Hindbad a hundred sequins, inviting him to the usual repast on the morrow, and promising he should hear the account of the fourth voyage. Hindbad and the other guests retired, and on the following day returned at the same hour. When dinner was over, Sindbad continued the relation of his adventures.

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